Image credit – Cricket Ireland
If not cricket, what would Tim Murtagh be doing?
It’s a timely question: Murtagh, Ireland’s experienced paceman, is 37, after all. Other Ireland stalwarts, such as Ed Joyce, now 40, and Niall O’Brien, 37, chose to retire not too long ago.
But that question remains unanswered. For now, Murtagh just considers himself very lucky to be playing a sport he absolutely loves, especially since it keeps him from doing a nine-to-five job and because these last few years have been among the most enjoyable.
On Friday, March 16, he top-scored from No.11 for Ireland in the only Test against Afghanistan in Dehradun. His unbeaten 75-ball 54 on day one rescued his side from a dire 85/9. Murtagh partnered with George Dockrell to push their side to 172 in the first innings of their maiden overseas Test.
— Cricket Ireland (@Irelandcricket) March 15, 2019
What keeps him going? “The love for the game and knowing that I’ll have to do a proper job if I stop playing cricket, which doesn’t appeal to me that much,” he said cheekily after first day’s play. “It’s a great life, travelling around the world, playing cricket.
“It is something I enjoy doing at the moment. I know I haven’t got that much longer left, but I am making the most of everything.”
That doesn’t mean he’s contemplating going down the T20 route. The shortest format has held its lure for most cricketers, especially for the experienced ones, as international commitments dwindle and it brings in some money. But Murtagh said he was never too keen on T20 cricket and doesn’t regret never wholeheartedly getting involved in the format.
“The last few years I have enjoyed a lot, almost [more than] at any stage of my career. I still love playing the game, a bit of 50 overs, [but] T20, not so much. I am kind of done with that. It’s a young man’s game. But 50-over or the longer formats of four-day or five-day, I’ve really enjoyed the last few years,” he said.
“I’ve gone all the wrong way about it, especially with the kind of money involved in T20s. [But] I am just loving my cricket at the moment.”
Murtagh is already looking forward to Ireland’s next Test, against England at Lord’s. Having been a member of Middlesex for quite a while, playing a Test at the county’s home ground is going to be “special”.
“It will be a home away from home,” he said. “A ground that I know well – it’s a special place to play, whether you play a championship game in county or a Test match. That week is going to be special for everyone, but especially for me.”